Background: Spacers are often used with pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) to eliminate the need for coordinating inhalation with actuation.
Objective: To investigate the real-life effectiveness of spacers prescribed for use with either extrafine- or fine-particle inhaled corticosteroids (ICSs).
Methods: This historical matched cohort study examined anonymous medical record data over 2 years (1-year baseline, 1-year outcome) for patients with asthma aged 12 to 80 years initiating ICSs by pMDI with or without prescribed spacer. We compared outcomes for spacer versus no-spacer arms, matched for key baseline and asthma-related characteristics, within 2 ICS cohorts: (1) extrafine-particle ICS (beclomethasone) and (2) fine-particle ICS (fluticasone). Effectiveness end points were compared using conditional regression methods.
Results: Matched spacer and no-spacer arms of the extrafine-particle ICS cohort each included 2090 patients (69% females; median age, 46-47 years) and the 2 arms of the fine-particle ICS cohort each included 444 patients (67% females; median age, 45 years). With extrafine-particle ICS, we observed no significant difference between spacer and no-spacer arms in severe exacerbation rate (primary end point): adjusted rate ratio, 1.01 (95% CI, 0.83-1.23). With fine-particle ICS, the severe exacerbation rate ratio with spacers was 0.77 (0.47-1.25). Oropharyngeal candidiasis incidence was low and similar in spacer and no-spacer arms for both ICS cohorts.
Conclusions: We found no evidence that prescribed spacer devices are associated with improved asthma outcomes for extrafine- or fine-particle ICS administered by pMDI. These findings challenge long-standing assumptions that spacers should improve pMDI effectiveness and indicate the need for pragmatic trials of spacers in clinical practice.
Keywords: Asthma; Inhaled corticosteroid; Particle size; Pressurized metered-dose inhaler; Spacer device.
Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.